Introducing JOFA’s new Associate Director: Dr. Ali Yares

Mon, 10/08/2012 - 7:36pm -- JOFA

Ali YaresDr. Ali Yares, the new JOFA Associate Director, brings with her a decade of Jewish organizational experience and a doctorate in communication design. The 31-year-old mother of two, who did her undergraduate degrees in the joint Columbia University JTS program, recently moved from Baltimore, Maryland, to Syosset, New York, in order to work at JOFA. She spoke to the JOFA Spotlight team about her ideas, impressions, and dreams:

What made you decide to come work for JOFA?
Which time? I interned at JOFA when I was a student in 2003. It was at my Jewish women’s class at Barnard when I first learned about JOFA. I thought it was so interesting, and it was a conference year so I was really fascinated by the different people speaking at the conference and the topics being discussed. So right after the conference, I emailed JOFA and asked if there was any work for me to do during the summer. And Robin Bodner said they were building the new website at the time, and she offered me a summer internship to work on the website. Even though it was only part time, I really enjoyed it. We spent a lot of time working on the online library, and that was great for me because I got to read a lot of articles. It helped me think about things contextually about different issues.

Now, when the JOFA opportunity came up now, it was great for me. I’m in a different place professionally than I was then – although I still do a lot of work on building online communication. Now I have a lot more organizational experience in marketing, strategic planning, and website issues with Jewish non-profits. So now I feel like I have a lot of professional knowledge to bring to this great organization. 

What are you looking forward to most in this job? 
I’m really interested in helping build up JOFA’s online presence. I’m looking forward to using tools of social media – Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest – to help get JOFA’s important messages across. I also think that the planning of the conference is going to be very exciting, as well as planning what JOFA will be doing over the next five years. These conversations about where JOFA is going are going to be really interesting and important. 

What are the greatest challenges to Orthodox feminism today?  
Allowing women to have halakhic opportunities because of the stigma about it. It seems to me that there are a lot of things that are halakhically permissible but society doesn’t want to allow it, out of a kind of “minhag halakhah.” I would like to see more partnership synagogues, more communities taking a more progressive outlook when it comes to women’s roles in the community.

What do you do in your spare time? 
I crochet especially kippot. I also bake, although my husband bakes the challah (he also cooks, I’m very fortunate for his love of cooking).


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